Will Russia Charge Timofei Kulyabin With "Hooliganism" Over Wagner?
Dazed and Confused: A scene from the reportedly 'obscene' production
"Two men went on trial in Russia on Wednesday over their staging of Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser opera, which a senior Orthodox cleric complained was offensive to religious believers. Prosecutors said the modern-day staging, which fuelled [sic] anger among Orthodox Russians after it premiered in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk last December, 'desecrated' the image of Jesus Christ. A complaint by a senior cleric led to charges being filed against the head of Novosibirsk's State Opera and Ballet Theatre, Boris Mezdrich, and director, Timofei Kulyabin, who face fines of up to 200,000 rubles ($3,243) if found guilty. The original opera, considered one of Wagner's most controversial with its focus on sexuality and spirituality, was first performed in 1845. The hero, Tannhäuser, goes from frolicking with the goddess of love Venus, to seeking religious salvation from the Pope for his sexual excesses. Kulyabin's production shifts the action to the present day, with Tannhäuser a movie director making a film about Jesus visiting Venus's erotic grotto....'The question being decided now is whether we have religious censorship in our country,' Mezdrich said in court. The case comes three years after a probe against the Pussy Riot punks who were sentenced to two years for 'hooliganism', specifically offending believers, after a performance in a Moscow church. While the two men are currently charged with a civil misdemeanour, they still risk criminal charges on a new offence introduced by Russia in 2013 after the Pussy Riot case -- carrying out public acts that offend believers -- which carries a jail sentence of up to three years." [Source]